THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MUSIC Presents THE Winner,XuSebastianAlexanderSYMPHONYUNIVERSITYORCHESTRAJiménez,MusicDirectorandConductorJiménez,AssistantConductorHan,piano2022DoctoralConcertoCompetitionFriday,September16,20227:30p.m.RubyDiamondConcertHall
850-894-8700 719www.beethovenandcompany.comNorthCalhounStreet,Suite E Tallahassee, Florida 32303
3. Saturday Night Waltz
III. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andantino)
Winner of the 2022 Doctoral Concerto Competition
Symphony No. 2 in D Major
I. Allegro non troppo (1833–1897)
Rodeo Aaron Copland
Xu Han, piano
II. Tema con variazioni
I. Andante–Allegro (1891–1853)
II. Adagio non troppo
IV. Allegro con spirito
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Op. 26
4. Hoe Down Sebastian Jimenez, assistant conductor
III. Allego, ma non troppo
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2. Corral Nocturne (1900–1990)
Active as a guest conductor and clinician, Jiménez has conducted extensively in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, including with the Brno Philharmonic (Czech Republic) and the Israel Netanya Chamber Orchestra. In 2022, Dr. Jiménez led the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a recording of works by Anthony Iannaccone. Deeply devoted to music education, he serves as international ambassador for the European Festival of Music for Young People in Belgium and serves as Festival Orchestra Director and Artistic Consultant for the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. Dr. Jiménez has been the recipient of University Teaching Awards in 2006 and 2018, The Transformation Through Teaching Award, and the Guardian of the Flame Award which is given to an outstanding faculty mentor. Dr. Jiménez is a past president of the College Orchestra Directors Association and served as music director of the Tallahassee Youth Orchestras from 20002017.
ABOUT THE MUSIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR
Alexander Jiménez serves as Professor of Conducting, Director of Orchestral Activities, and String Area Coordinator at the Florida State University College of Music. Prior to his appointment at FSU in 2000, Jiménez served on the faculties of San Francisco State University and Palm Beach Atlantic University. Under his direction, the FSU orchestral studies program has expanded and been recognized as one of the leading orchestral studies programs in the country. Dr. Jiménez has recorded on the Naxos, Neos, Canadian Broadcasting Ovation, and Mark labels. Deeply committed to music by living composers, Dr. Jiménez has had fruitful and long-term collaborations with such eminent composers as Ellen Taafe Zwilich and the late Ladisalv Kubík, as well as working with Anthony Iannaccone, Krzysztof Penderecki, Martin Bresnick, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Harold Schiffman, Louis Andriessen, and Georg Friedrich Haas. The University Symphony Orchestra has appeared as a featured orchestra for the College Orchestra Directors National Conference and the American String Teachers Association National Conference, and the University Philharmonia has performed at the Southeast Conference of the Music Educators National Conference (now the National Association for Music Education). The national PBS broadcast of Zwilich’s Peanuts’ Gallery® featuring the University Symphony Orchestra was named outstanding performance of 2007 by the National Educational Television Association.
Xu Han is an avid performer of solo, chamber, and orchestral music and has performed throughout the United States and China. Originally from China, Xu began to study the piano at the age of 5. She decided to pursue music professionally when she was eleven years old and went to Tianjin Conservatory of Music middle school and high school to study with Professor Yibo Wang. Later she studied with Professor Chun Pan from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and won the FirstClass School Scholarship for 4 consecutive years.
In 2018, Xu was admitted to the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, where she studied with Professor Alexander Kobrin and obtained the Master of Music degree in piano performance and literature in 2020. In addition to her primary piano professor, Xu also received guidance from many prestigious pianists, including Taihang Du, Vincent Lenti, Tony Caramia, Dror Biran, Ran Dank, Alexander Shtarkman, Solomon Mikowsky, Pavlina Dokovska, John Perry, Yiyang Chen, and Charlie Albright.
As an active solo pianist, Xu has performed in many venues and concert halls across the United States and China. Her performances have garnered rave reviews, which all attest to her impressive musical maturity and virtuosic playing. A dedicated pedagogue, Xu is an active member of the Music Teachers National Association, International Piano Professionals Association, and China Association for Promoting Children’s Culture and Art.
Xu is currently completing the Doctor of Music degree in piano performance at Florida State University, where she studies with Professor Stijn De Cock, and has held a graduate piano accompanying assistantship under the direction of Professor Valerie M. Trujillo. In 2021, she won the Rockwood Piano Competition at Florida State University, and was selected to perform in the Wideman Concerto Competition in Shreveport, LA. In 2022, Xu won the
In 2014, Xu started her studies at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2018. Among her accomplishments are the Excellent Award in Tianjin Division of the 6th Yangtze Asia Youth Piano Competition (2015), first prize of the Finals Professional Group of the River-Kayserburg Youth Piano Competition (2015), the Excellent Student of the 2014-2015 academic year, the Winner of National Inspirational Scholarship & First-Class College Scholarship, the Yamaha Music Scholarship in Asia in Tianjin Division (2016), the Excellent Student of the 20152016 academic year, and the winner of National Inspirational Scholarship and First-Class College Scholarship. In 2017, Xu won the third prize of the Adult Group of the Professional Institutions of the Pearl Huanglong International Piano Festival and won the First Prize of the Qualifying Finals in China of the 11th International Piano Competition Nice Cote D’ AZUR, and won the First Prize of Professional Group in Both Tianjin & North China District Division of the 8th Steinway National Youth Piano Competition & the 81st Steinway Youth Piano Festival.
TONIGHT’S FEATURED SOLOIST
NOTES ON THE PROGRAM
When the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo commissioned Aaron Copland in 1942 to write for them a “cowboy ballet,” they were fulfilling one the composer’s longstanding ambitions. Since his days in Paris, watching the Ballet Russe perform works by Igor Stravinsky, Copland had dreamed of working with the legendary ballet company. By 1942 Aaron Copland was fully immersed in his nationalistic style. The economic depressions in the 1920s and 30s had a profound emotional impact upon the composer and contributed to his shift towards a more popularly accessible musical style.
Copland was no less committed to a genuinely American product with the musical score. It is for this reason that he searched for his material from old-time song books such has Alan Lomax’s Our Singing Country and Ira Ford’s Traditional Music of America. In addition to using folk melodies, he treated the instruments the way a cowboy would treat them. He wrote in sharp keys to utilize the open strings and the brighter sound effectively making the violins into fiddles.
third prize of VI Future Stars International Piano Competition. In March and April of 2022, Xu gave two lecture recitals on Chinese traditional music and Peking Opera in conjunction with the Asians in Arts and Music Association in Florida State University. Xu attended the Asian Classical Music Initiative 2022 Inaugural International Conference at the University of Kansas, where she presented a lecture recital on the topic of Asian folk music and won first prize in the presentation competition with her showcase of Peking Opera Themes.
Copland – Rodeo
The first movement in tonight’s selections is Coral Nocturne, a simple, but touching musical setting of the ranch after dark. In this movement Copland includes themes such as “Home Sweet Home.” In the opening of Saturday-Night Waltz we hear the strings “tuning up” for the ensuing dance by playing open fifths in successions. As the dance begins Copland incorporates American rhythmic styles through syncopations within the waltz patterns.
For the choreography of this project, the Ballet Russe hired Agnes de Mille. This marked the first time in the company’s history that an American wrote their choreography. The result of de Mille’s contribution was a convincing Western style that eschewed the typical conventions of movement in ballet. Instead, she struggled with the foreign dancers for months to teach them to move distinctly like American cowboys. The plot Agnes de Milles chose for Rodeo was an Old Western adaptation of Taming of the Shrew. About the plot de Mille said, “The theme of the ballet is basic. It deals with the problem that has confronted all American women, from the earliest pioneer times, and which has never ceased to occupy them throughout the history of the building of our country: how to get a suitable man.”
Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich are the two composers who stood above the rest of those who labored during the years of the Soviet Union. Unlike Shostakovich, however, Prokofiev enjoyed part of his career living and composing in the West, returning to the USSR in 1936 voluntarily. Like his compatriot, he must be counted as one of the great composers of the twentieth century, although unlike Shostakovich, his direct influence on composers outside of the Soviet sphere was minimal. He was a virtuoso pianist, but also composed from the beginning, graduating from the St. Petersburg shortly before World War I. His musical style was based in the Russian romantic tradition, but he established early on a personal idiom that was characterized by pungent dissonance, soaring lyrical melodies, a facile manipulation of motoric rhythms, and kaleidoscopic harmonic changes. Part and parcel of his musical personality was an acerbic appreciation of satire, parody, and even the Prokofiev,grotesque.inaddition
to his education as a composer, was trained as a concert pianist, and early on began supplying himself with compositions. Among his early piano works he wrote two piano concertos, the first of which he played for his final student examinations at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1914. He witnessed (and supported) the Revolution in 1917, but it is noteworthy that in May 1918 he left Russia and the struggles of the proletariat and travelled all the way across Russia through Siberia to Tokyo, and then on to New York. You might say that he sneaked out the back door. His goal was obviously to enrich himself though solo piano touring in the US, like his acquaintance and competitor Rachmaninov. Prokofiev struggled somewhat more than did Rachmaninov during these years, for the latter was much more amenable to playing a popular program of more accessible music than was Prokofiev. In any case, in 1921, in contemplation of another American season ahead of him, Prokofiev completed the third piano concerto while vacationing in Brittany.
The work closes with a rousing and aptly named Hoedown. The principal theme of this movement is derived from the fiddling tune, “Bonyparte’s Retreat,” played by Bill Stepp for a recording by Alan Lomax in Kentucky in 1933. The second theme acknowledges the impact of other cultures upon Western American music by incorporating Irish fiddling tune “McLeod’s Reel.” Throughout this movement Copland demonstrates his concern for preserving the subtle aspects of the style that accompany this musical tradition. He preserves the key of D-major from Alan Lomax’s tune book because it is necessary for this style of playing. The reason for this being that any country fiddler would have preferred to play in sharp keys, particularly G, D, A, and E. Within these keys, the open strings are used most often, creating a distinct performance tradition. In fact, the only times that this work moves into flat keys are when the winds have the primary musical material. Through Aaron Copland’s adaptive abilities, the Wild West is brought into the orchestra. One feels the expansive night sky, hears the string band tune up, and prepares for a devastatingly fast hoedown.
Prokofiev – Piano Concerto No. 3
The last movement opens with bassoons and strings, playing the main idea of the movement, a rather lurching march, but in three beats to the bar. The piano joins in the intense parade, and after a bit, a new section ensues that displays the composer’s famed gift for soaring lyrical melody, in the best of heartthrob Russian romanticism. The musical war resumes, however, and the soloist and the orchestra go the full ten rounds-each finding resourceful and virtuoso “ammunition” as the they maniacally drive to the end. It’s all breathtakingly entertaining, and ample evidence of all of the aspects of the composer’s inimitable style that have led to his immense popularity ever since. But, in the midst of all of the crackling wit, sparkling style, and supercharged performance, we are still left wondering how much of Prokofiev, himself, the composer has allowed us to hear.
The orchestra takes an important role throughout the work and participates as equal – not only in announcing the musical material, but in its development as well. Two clarinets open the slow introduction, and not long after a whirlwind in the strings leads into a look at that material by the energetic soloist. Later, contrasting ideas are heard first in the oboe (with castanets!), followed yet again by a re-interpretation by the soloist. The middle “working out” is a kick, and features the famous driving octaves of the pianist, ripping up and down the scale. Naturally, Prokofiev provides a suitable, brilliant ending to the affair. The middle movement consists of a theme with five variations, each with a distinct character. It opens almost demurely, with a dignified, moderate dance-like theme, played by the solo flute and then clarinet-almost “classical.” Then, “boom” – the first variation takes off like mad. Other variations are short – and you’ll be able to count them easily –go through a variety of moods and character. Much of Prokofiev’s complicated personal character come to the fore, but you’re never quite sure what’s authentic and what’s sarcastic. Listen for the theme played by the flute amidst the bustle of the last variation. It all ends suspiciously serenely, though.
It was not all completely new, for many of the ideas and sketches went back a few years. The work contains all of the pungent, vigorous, rhythm-driven characteristics of Prokofiev. Nevertheless, some of its clarity and melodic directness may reflect his anticipation of conservative American audiences. He gave the premiere with the Chicago Symphony in December of 1921. While not an immediate success – that came after its European debut – the concerto went on to become the most popular of his five piano concertos.
– Wm. E. Runyan
© 2015 William E. Runyan
Written throughout the summer of 1877, Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major is positioned just beyond an excruciating twenty-year period during which the composer dedicated himself to an intense study of orchestral composition. After nearly two decades of compositional struggle, self-criticism, and revision, the composer offered his first foray into the symphonic medium in 1876 with his Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Beethoven cast a long shadow over symphonic composers in Vienna, and Brahms seems to have
Brahms – Symphony No. 2
The opening movement, Allegro non troppo¸ begins quietly and peacefully with a bass and celli motive that sets the mood of the work and exposes the motivic germ for the movements’ melodic material. A second, lyrical melody performed by the celli and violas is one of Brahms’ most recognizable, and will dominate the work until a dense, contrapuntal, and learned development section. The opening material is recapitulated and then rounded off by a lyrical solo for horn when, finally, a pastiche of a Viennese waltz brings the movement to a close. The following Adagio non troppo is quintessential Brahms, with its calm surface undergirded by formal and harmonic complexity. The serene, seemingly plain cello melody which opens the work, which is actually highly syncopated and vexingly difficult to perform, will return toward the end of the movement in full orchestral garb before an understated ending.
The Symphony No. 2 in D major of 1877 was composed during a summer retreat in the bucolic village of Pörtschach, Austria. The rustic setting seems to have inspired the composer, who remarked that “so many melodies fly about…one must be careful not to tread on them.” This sunny, charming symphony – often referred to as ‘Brahms’ Pastorale’ – was another critical and popular success. Brahms was confident enough with his work to jokingly mislead friends, publishers, and the public at large by insisting that his calmly optimistic work “is so melancholy that you will not be able to bear it,” and that the orchestra would have to play it with mourning bands on their arms. The composers sustained this ironic façade right up until the premier (and even for a time thereafter!).
The third movement, Allegretto grazioso, mixes 18th- and 19th century dance topics. Listen for the alternation of slower, minuet-like allusions to Austrian country dance with a frenetic, Beethovian scherzo. The movement concludes with a complicated, contrapuntal passage which fades into the sonic, displaced by sustained chords sounded by the strings. The finale, Allegro con spirito, opens with a quiet, demure theme voiced between the strings and bassoons. This opening theme is subtly linked with the first-movement material; a display of Brahms’ proclivity for thematic economy. This satisfying finale alternates between and juxtaposes the broad, opening melody with music more exciting and feverish, leading listeners and performers alike to a final, powerful coda.–
been keenly aware of the inevitable comparisons. He once remarked to a confidant that “you have no idea how it feels to hear behind you the tramp of a giant.” But the critical and popular success of the Symphony No. 1 seems to have exorcised any insecurities Brahms may have harbored, as evidenced by the rapid, confident composition of his next symphonic undertaking.
Alexander Jiménez, Music Director and Conductor Sebastian Jiménez, Associate Conductor
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